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Sunnyside utility bills going up this April

If everything goes as planned the city of Sunnyside will begin collecting a stormwater fee from city residents this April.

The Sunnyside City Council at last night's meeting approved an ordinance that establishes a rate of $3.75 per utility billing account for the stormwater utility.

Byron Olson, director of finance and administrative services for the city of Sunnyside, told the council the city has an estimated 3,400 utility accounts that are billed on a monthly basis for water, sewer and garbage.

The new stormwater fee would be added to the monthly billing. In addition Olson told the council, there are an estimated 700 parcels within the city that do not have any utility billing associated with the parcel. City staff will add those parcels to the system and send the owners their respective billing for the stormwater utility.

Olson said projections show the city would receive approximately $15,000 per month in revenue from the fee. If the city can start collecting in April then $123,000 could be collected in 2010 if all those billed pay their bills.

Olson told the council the stormwater utility budget adopted in the 2010 city budget is set at $250,000. Currently city workers are revising the budget to get a more accurate number that the city anticipates spending in 2010. Preliminary estimates at this time, according to Olson, show the city will spend approximately $150,000 in 2010 for stormwater work.

Olson told the council that if additional funds are required to balance 2010 stormwater operations then a short-term loan can be provided by the city's general fund. That loan could be paid back during 2011 as then the stormwater fee will be in place for an entire year.

Sunnyside Councilman Mike Farmer asked Olson if the billing would be per lot or per residence.

Olson told him the fee will apply to anyone with a utility account in the city.

"What it does is it gets us collecting the money," he said.

The $3.75 is just a basic fee and a formula will be worked out in the future where a person's non-pervious land will be measured. The person's total area of non-pervious land will then be assessed a stormwater fee based on the formula.

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